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iPhone Error 53: everything you need to know

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Should you be worried? Which phones are at risk? Here's the inside line on the iPhone glitch.
iPhone 6 head to head

Apple’s iPhone has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, after it was discovered that a glitch, dubbed Error 53, is rendering thousands of handsets unusable.

News of the problem has been everywhere in the mainstream media, with thousands of irate iPhone owners complaining that their handsets no longer work.

But what is Error 53? And how can you protect yourself against it?

Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Who’s affected?

iphone repair

Reports from thousands of users on Apple’s own discussion boards suggest that anyone who has broken their iPhone’s Touch ID home button and then had it fixed by a third party rather than Apple itself could be affected.

Third-party mobile shops offer much cheaper repairs than Apple itself.

How does it occur?

ios 9

The repair itself doesn’t seem to cause the issue. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests iPhones work just fine after a Touch ID sensor has been replaced.

The problem comes when users are prompted to install a new software update.

When choosing to install the latest version of Apple’s iOS 9, users are then faced with a screen which says ‘Error 53’ before the device shuts down.

How can it be fixed?

iPhone 6 plus landscape

Here’s the rub. There is no way of fixing Error 53–hit iPhones.

The simple fact is that these devices are now unusable and if you want a working iPhone, you’re going to have to get a new one.

Quite simply, replacing components using third parties voids the iPhone’s warranty, leaving users facing a stiff penalty.

What does Apple have to say for itself?

Apple store black and white

Apple says Error 53 is not a way of punishing users who don’t want to pay their hefty repair charges.

Instead, it says it’s related to the fact that Touch ID’s fingerprint security can be breached if the home button is replaced by a third party.

In a statement, it said: “We take customer security very seriously and Error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers.

"iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor in your iPhone or iPad correctly matches your device’s other components.

"If iOS finds a mismatch, the check fails and Touch ID, including for Apple Pay use, is disabled.

"This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used. If a customer encounters Error 53, we encourage them to contact Apple Support.”

And how are customers reacting?

angry mob

Furiously. Many say that Apple should have been up front about the fact that changing a Touch ID sensor would render a iPhone unusable.

Some say they’ve been hit by Error 53 just because their Touch ID is faulty, despite the fact they haven’t replaced it.

Yet again, Apple finds itself having to fight a PR battle largely of its own making.

By failing to fully explain the consequences of changing a Touch ID sensor through unofficial channels, it has turned what could have been a minor tech story into global, front–page news.

Category: Features
Tagged: iphone, apple

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